Brown Trout
Typical Size
12-15" (1-2 lbs.)
Decent Size
16-18" (2-3 lbs.)
Nice Size
19-21" (4-6 lbs.)
39.8" (40 lbs. 4 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

6 lbs.
Genus/Species Salmo trutta
Common Names brown, brownie, German brown, European trout, sea trout
Hot Spots Long Pond, Whitmans Pond, Fearings Pond
Best Time March - June
Best Baits minnows, spoons, spinners
Best Method Trolling

Brown trout are typically golden brown on the sides and darker olive/brown on top, becoming a pale gold/white underneath. They also have numerous dark spots encircled by pale halos. Some have a few colored spots as well. Patterns vary depending upon location, time of year, and age of fish. It is a heavier-bodied trout with small scales. Like all trouts, it has and adipose fin just near the tail on the top. The mouth is of average size with larger teeth than most other trout. Coloring changes with environment. Sea-run browns tend to lose most of their color and spots, taking on a more silvery-white tone.

Brown Trout
Brown trout prefer live baits like minnows.
Brown trout are not only not indiginous to the south shore of Massachusetts, they aren't even native to the United States. Introduced to the the late 1800s from Asia, brown trout have been successfully transplanted to a variety of locations and environments. A close relative of the Atlantic salmon, brown trout prefer cool, clear water but can tolerate warmer water than most other trouts. Brown trout generally are found in areas of structure with temperatures ranging from 45 to 55 degrees. An aggressive predator, brown trout feed heavily upon fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and to a lesser extent, insects.

Brown trout have been introduced throughout most of North America from Canada down to Arkansas in streams, lakes, and ponds. On the south shore of Massachusetts, they are stocked along with rainbow and brook trout in a few ponds and lakes. Those with deeper, cooler water can keep holdover brown trout from year to year. It is a hardier and longer living trout than most. The best time to catch them near shore is early spring and again later in the fall.

Although doubtful that any south shore browns spawn, typical spawning habits have them spawning in the fall when female browns build nests, called redds, by fanning the sandy gravel bottom with their tails and depositing thousands of colorful eggs. The male brown then fertilizes them, they are covered over by the female and lay incubating all winter until they hatch in the spring. These young browns, called alevins, take nourishment from a relatively large yolk-sac until the water warms up enough. Yearling brown trout keep to the shoreline while the larger parents move back to deeper water. In sea-run populations, brown trout spend 2 to 3 years in freshwater before they migrate downstream to spend 1 or 2 growing seasons in coastal waters near river mouths and estuaries.

You can fish for brown trout with many different kinds of bait. Minnows are probably the most popular but worms, salmon eggs, and prepared baits can also catch browns. A live bait rig setup for shiners is the best bet if you want to catch brown trout with bait.

The most popular method for taking brown trout is trolling deep-diving minnow plugs or spoons. Trolling speed should be fairly brisk but not too fast. These are not lethargic fish and will chase a properly presented spoon or swimming plug. The biggest key to trolling for brown trout involves depth. You must get your lure down to as close to the bottom as possible without fouling it on vegetation or structure. Unfortunately, it is areas of structure such as rockpiles, undercut banks, instream debris, and thick vegetation that brown trout tend to hang. Use deep-diving plugs and trolling sinkers if needed to reach fish.

Fishing for brown trout is part of an important freshwater recreational fishery. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, certain ponds are selected for stocking of brown trout each year. You can find out where from the Mass. Divsion of Fisheries and Wildlife. Brown trout are excellent eating, the flesh being pink, flavorful, and of moderate firmness. Similar to salmon, it is often fried, baked, or grilled. Due to the fact that they are heartier and can holdover in deeper ponds, caution should be exercised when eating larger individuals from areas that may contain mercury or other forms of pollution. Most brown trout are stocked and caught within the year so they are generally a safe bet to consume.